5 Things Your Wife Needs Most

When my wife and I first got married, I was convinced that I knew how to be a great husband.  However, it didn’t take long to see that I still had a lot to learn about caring for this beautiful lady I had chosen to be my wife.

Now that we’ve been married for over 15 years, I can honestly say that a good amount of our growth can be credited to the fact that we’ve learned that the other spouse’s needs are quite often different than our own. We’ve found that when we fail to realize what our spouse needs most, it can lead to unnecessary friction, frustration, and even resentment in our hearts towards one another.

As men, we are wired with different needs than your wife.  While there could be many things included in this list of what women need, here are five of the top things I’ve learned that my wife needs most.

1. Sleep.

While the average person needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night to function at peak performance, women are naturally drawn towards needing more sleep than men. Many days, my wife will go to sleep before me, and also wake up after me the next morning, and guess what… it’s okay.

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How to Love Your Family the Way God Loves You

I John 4:7-8  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

“God is Love”…  That’s a very bold statement for the Bible to make.  To state that God is not just a great picture of love, or that He displayed the greatest act of love, but that He IS the very definition of love itself… it ought to change our thinking about love.

Because if God is love, then no-one has the ability to love apart from Him and being made in His image.  Without Him, there is no such thing as love, so we are only able to love as a reflection of His character.

Have you ever struggled to love… God’s way?  While God has called us to a life of love, our ability to love is not based upon our ability to simply choose it.  That would put the weight of responsibility squarely upon our shoulders, which is impossible.

We are only able to love completely as we depend upon the grace of God, and then demonstrate to others through the power of His Spirit that very love that He has first demonstrated to us. (I John 4:12-13)

NOTICE THE GREAT LOVE THAT GOD HAS FOR YOU… 

(Seriously, take the time to read and ponder these verses, even if they’re familiar to you)

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9,13  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

If you haven’t yet received God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life through salvation, I would encourage you to be saved today!  (If you have questions about salvation that I can help with, please let me know.)

I John 4:9-10, 12  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins…. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Once we know God through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we have the promise of the love of God at work in us and through us to others around us.

Notice what kind of love this is that God has for you and gives to you through the person of Jesus:

  • A Sacrificial Love: Love at any cost – John 3:16
  • An Unconditional Love: Love that is undeserved – Romans 5:8, I John 4:19
  • An Eternal Love: Love that never ends – Jeremiah 31:3
  • A Powerful Love: Love that cannot be changed – Romans 8:38-39

When we consider the great nature of God’s love demonstrated through Christ for us, can we honestly say that our love towards our family members mirrors such love?

REALITY CHECK…

Are we willing to:

  • love at any cost?
  • love when it isn’t deserved?
  • love without any strings attached?
  • love when it’s not reciprocated?
  • love without any hint of ever holding it back, no matter what?

How well are our gestures demonstrating such love?… what about our responses to mistakes?… our tone of voice?… our actions?  Is the love of God that is at work in us actually reaching out on to the other side of our skin for our family to see?

Our natural tendency is to try and love on our own terms.  But love in its truest form is only a love patterned after the definition of love itself – God.  “God. Is. Love.”  And we can’t do it without His help.

This is deep, but so true – We can only love our family the way God loves us when we love our family the way God loves us. (I warned you it was deep 😃 )  But are we?

God, our Heavenly Father, has set the perfect example for us in how He loves us, His children.  And in it, a perfect example of how we are to love our children as well.

How are you doing at sharing the love… by loving your family the way God loves you?

I John 4:11  If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 

John 15:12  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

5 Ways You’re Hurting Your Family (And you don’t even know it)

Have you ever had to be confronted with something you were doing wrong, that you didn’t even know you were doing wrong?

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Here are a few common mistakes that couples often make in parenting that they may not even realize they are making.  However, they can still be costly.

Are you guilty of hurting your family with any of these unintentional, yet common mistakes?

1.  Correcting your spouse in front of your kids  

I know you don’t always agree.  But when those times come, it’s really important that you discipline yourselves to put on a unified front when your kids are watching.  Sometimes its a whole lot easier to just say, “Honey, let’s talk about this later”, than burdening your kids with an unnecessary feeling of insecurity that comes from seeing mom and dad at odds with each other.

Even if you genuinely believe  your spouse is wrong in a situation, do your best to make that known in private, not in the presence of your kids.

2.  Siding with your kids over your spouse when there’s a conflict

Let’s face it, from time to time, you’re going to see eye to eye with your kids over your spouse on certain issues.  It may be that you don’t think they deserve to be disciplined for something, but your spouse does.  Or you think your spouse is being too harsh, and your child is being treated unfairly.

In these types of situations, one of the most dangerous things you can do for your family is to side with your child over your spouse (at least if it’s done in the child’s presence).  Because when this happens, the seeds of disrespect and contempt are inadvertently sown in your child’s heart.

While the last thing you would ever want to do is set your spouse up for parenting failure, that is exactly what you will do if you throw them under the bus and side with your children over them.  The solution to this type of situation is simple –  have a conversation with your spouse in private, come to an agreement or compromise, and then explain it to your children as a unified couple.

3.  Giving your kids permission to do something your spouse has said no to

Kids are smart, and they know that if one parent won’t give them the answer they want, then maybe the other parent will.  In our home, our children understand the consequences if they ask one of us something that they know the other has already given them a clear answer about.

However, if in any family, one parent regularly goes behind the back of the other, and gives their child permission to do things that they have already been told no to, they have successfully sown the seeds of division in their family, and they shouldn’t be surprised when they reap an unwanted harvest in years to come.

4.  Having and enforcing different rules than your spouse

One of the greatest keys to successful parenting is two people being on the same page, going in the same direction, and trying to accomplish the same vision for their family. Anytime that children begin to sense that there is a certain set of rules when one parent is present, and a different set of rules when they are absent, there is a great potential danger in the home. This could involve what kids are allowed to watch, listen to, eat, or say, etc.

Dad and mom need to get on the same page when it comes to rules concerning chores, expectations, respect, discipline, and so many other areas.  This can be especially difficult for step families or single parents whose kids live in more than one home with different sets of rules.  But as best as possible, for the sake of the children, every family needs to find as much common ground as possible in this area.

5.  Giving your kids greater priority of your time and attention than your spouse

This is often one of the most common mistakes that couples make in parenting, and don’t even realize it – focusing more on their relationship with their kids to the detriment of feeding and growing their own relationship with each other.

When parent and child become more of a team than mom and dad, mark it down, there’s going to be problems.

Never forget that God gave you your spouse first, and your children second.  And anytime that your relationship with your spouse suffers, your children will naturally suffer as a result.  Strong marriages make for strong families.  So do what it takes to put your spouse first, and don’t ever apologize to your kids for doing so.

None of us would intentionally try to hurt our family, but it’s very possible we’re doing it without even knowing it.  If so, let’s make the necessary course corrections.

Let’s make it our goal as parents to make our home the most safe and balanced place for love to grow, character to form, and future family precedents to be set.

3 Reasons It’s Time to Have a Family Meeting

If you want to have a long lasting and smooth running vehicle, every few months you need to take the time to get your oil changed.  In addition, every now and then, you may even need to get get an alignment or other routine maintenance done.

Why do we do those things?  I’ll guarantee you it’s probably not because we want to or because we just have extra money lying around.  It’s because we understand the necessity of protecting our investment by keeping our vehicle running smoothly and functioning properly for the long haul.

Over time and with use, fresh oil is needed, and the bumps in the road require that some adjustments be made. It may not be overly noticeable at first, but the longer you leave it unattended, the worse it will continue to get.

The same is often true in our families. We have much invested, and in fact, there may be no greater investment we make in our lifetime.

But over time, with the bumps in the road of life, our family sometimes needs a routine adjustment, and some “fresh oil” to help get everyone back on the same page.

One of the ways we’ve found helpful to make this happen is by having routine family meetings.  These meetings help us implement the necessary tweaks to getting things that have gotten slightly out of alignment back to running smoothly and evenly again.

Here are 3 important reasons why it may just be time for you to have a family meeting:

1) To Establish Organization

I Corinthians 14:40 reminds us to “Let all things be done decently and in order.”  This would include the family.  God never designed for the family to be a hodge-podge, shoot from the hip, whatever happens happens, kind of institution.  He established the family as the cornerstone for intentional passing down of faith and values to future generations, who would then be able to do the same for more future generations.

I believe that God expects us to have a biblical game plan for our families.  This requires more than good intentions.  It requires implementing tangible steps of action.  One such step can be family meetings.  Many of us have regular and routine meetings for work, for ministry, and for other areas of life, in order to keep things running smoothly, so why not for the family? Meetings are not always fun, but they are often necessary.

2)  To Explain Expectations

We had our most recent family meeting a few weeks ago, and much of the purpose of that meeting was to clarify and re-establish some expectations that had gotten lax over time.  So rather than us continuing to get frustrated with one another because of family expectations not being met, we came up with a plan, and got the family together to go over that plan for how to realign our priorities and expectations.

We also use this family meeting time to give our kids the #1 area we want them to currently focus on improving in (sometimes it’s a school subject or other challenge, but most often it’s a character trait we’re currently trying to help them develop).  These family meetings are a separate event from doing family devotions, because they have a uniquely different purpose.

By doing these meetings, we’ve found it makes family life better for everyone.  Less confusion for the kids, more accountability for the parents, and ultimately less stress for everyone.  Why? Because everyone knows what the expectations are and the accompanying consequences of them not being met.

3) To Get On the Same Page

Following our routine family meetings, we find that just like an oil change or alignment, our home runs more smoothly and effectively.  This also gives us an opportunity for greater family unity and camaraderie.

One of the greatest areas this has helped with in our family is relieving stress for my wife by helping hold the kids accountable during the day to the same standards they are accountable dad is present.  I don’t know about your family, but my kids often have more of a tendency to take advantage of mom when I’m not around.

In addition to some good old fashioned discipline, family meetings have helped us to get on the same page and to nip things like that in the bud, as well as to focus on other priorities of family life that we feel need to be discussed.

“As a family, we’re on the same team.  So shouldn’t we also be on the same page?”

In my opinion, the value of regularly sitting down together with your family and getting everyone on the same page cannot be over emphasized.  I’d encourage you to try it, and find out for yourself!

So… is a family meeting long overdue in your home?

Do you already do family meetings?  If so, I’d love to hear about it.  Or, if you have questions, feel free to let me know.

What to Do When Your Family Faces Friction

EVERY family faces friction (both when the kids are in the home, as well as once they’re all grown and out of the house).  It’s a part of family life.

Sometimes the tendency is for there to be even more friction in the family once everyone is grown and on their own.  So when it happens (and it will… Didn’t I just say that?) here are some important things to remind yourself of:

 1) Remember, YOU’RE FAMILY.  In life, your friends and acquaintances will come and go, but your family is your family forever. God designed family to the be closest earthly relationships, so naturally these relationships have the potential to cause the deepest and greatest hurts.  No matter the cost, learn to do whatever is necessary to keep the communication open and the love alive between you and your family members.  While it may seem like a difficult or sometimes even impossible task, in the end it will be worthwhile.  Remember, you’re family.

2) Remember, THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS.  Guess who loves to reek havoc in families?  Guess who likes to cause misunderstandings, and who relishes in getting us to read into things and take everything personally?  Satan is the great divider.  He caused division in the very first family, and has been doing a masterful job ever since.  God loves the family.  Satan hates the family.  And when things go awry, remember who’s really behind it all, and don’t give him the pleasure of seeing you bite the bait.  Remember, the devil’s in the details.

3) Remember, THE ONLY PERSON YOU’RE RESPONSIBLE FOR IS YOU.  So often, when we’re hurt by another family member, our naturally tendency is to hurt back, or at least respond by treating them differently.  Yet, one of the greatest things we can ever practice or teach our kids when it comes to being wronged is to remember, ‘you are only responsible for you.’  You can’t decide what others do to you, but you can decide how you respond to it.  You can choose to love unconditionally like your Heavenly Father does.  God will not one day judge you based on what others have done to you, but He will judge you based upon what you have chosen to do to them.  Remember, the only person you’re responsible for is you.

4) Remember, A LITTLE KINDNESS CAN GO A LONG WAY.  Consider Joseph’s family, one of the most dysfunctional families in the Bible.  Yet we see in Josephs’ life a perfect example of how to respond to being wronged, as well as how to overcome evil with good.  Joseph lived out the principles of Psalm 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” and Romans 12:21 “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” There’s still great value is doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Pray for them, overload them with kindness, and see what God can do.  Remember, a little kindness can go a long way.

5) Remember, GOD CAN SOLVE WHAT YOU CAN’T.  There are no new answers in the Bible.  God has given us all the answers we need, it’s just up to us to believe them and practice them, and then let God do what we can’t.  But the question we need to answer first is this, ‘have we done what God expects of us?’  Have we exercised long-suffering?  Have we removed the beam out of our own eye?  Have we intentionally chosen forgiveness over bitterness?  Since God has no new answers, we must first do what God requires of us, then trust Him with the rest.  Remember, God can solve what you can’t.

Every family faces friction.  So, when your family faces it, what will you do?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

Why I Recently Had to Apologize to My 14 Year Old Son

When a parent should apologize to their child

Have you ever had one of those moments in your marriage where a fuse burns out, and you’re left with an unexpected situation on your hands of two people who just simply don’t see eye to eye?

Thankfully, this kind of occurrence is rare in our marriage, but nonetheless, on this day recently, it still occurred.

You see, there had been a meltdown in communication about a small detail of our family’s day, and that one small miscommunication snowballed into many other problems and emotions that followed.  And when it was all said and done, my wife and I found ourselves in the living room of our house, throwing insults at each other in an uncommon explosion of built up emotions.

In the course of that conversation, my wife told me something that I completely disagreed with, and I responded by forcefully saying, “Go away, I don’t even want to see you or talk to you right now. Just go away.”

While I knew that I was in no right frame of mind to keep talking at that moment, I also knew that the way that I had just handled myself was very foolish, selfish, and even disrespectful towards my wife.

To compound the problem, here are a couple of other details of the situation that day to consider:

  1. While this was happening in our living room, we currently had invited company over for lunch, and they were in the kitchen sitting at our table eating without us. (and sadly, probably overhearing us at the same time… Have you ever tried to yell at someone with a strong whisper? It doesn’t work out too well.)
  2. My wife was in a wheelchair do to a recent foot surgery she had, and so had very limited mobility to ‘go away’, even if she wanted to.
  3. As soon as I said those words, I turned around to see my 14 year old son sitting on the living room recliner behind me as I was having this heated conversation with my wife.

While all three of those things complicated our problem that day, the one that bothered me most was the fact that I had just disrespected my wife, and my son’s mother, right in front of his eyes and ears.

I’m sure you can understand my situation… For the last 14 years I have been intentionally teaching and training this boy of the importance of respecting girls and women in every circumstance, and had even recently corrected him for disrespecting his sister.  And in the heat of that moment, I had just undercut everything I had ever taught him… by my own bad example.

Needless to say, my heart immediately sank. I knew that I had blown it, and I had blown it bad.

In the hours that followed, I wrestled with what to do, both in response to my wife and to my son (not to mention our company still sitting in the other room).  I really felt like even though my reaction was wrong, I was still in the right.  But I quickly realized that none of that really mattered.

I knew that there was only one right thing to do – man up, swallow my pride, and ask for forgiveness.  And that’s exactly what I did. After calling my son into the kitchen later that day, I apologized to him in front of his mother for the disrespectful way that I had handled myself and treated her.  I explained to him that I was wrong. I was ashamed. I was sorry.  And that there was no excuse for my actions.

While I don’t know if my son will ever forget that day and what happened, what I do hope and pray that he never forgets is that a real man is able to admit when he’s wrong, make things right, and ask for forgiveness.

I’m the one who set the wrong example, and hopefully, I’m also the one who set it right.

Do you ever find yourself hesitant to apologize when you know you’re in the wrong?  Remember, your kids are watching you, and counting on you to get this right.

So… when should a parent apologize to their child?…

“When you’re in the wrong, and your child knows you’re in the wrong, you can’t afford to make the wrong decision.  Apologize.”

Who do you need to apologize to in your family?

How My 12 Year Old Daughter Reminded Me to Never Give Up

While our 12 year old daughter has many strengths, one of them is not the subject of math.

And it doesn’t help that both her younger and older brother can do math like a wiz with no problem at all.  This has been a real struggle for her, that sometimes seems insurmountable.

But to her credit, she’s not allowed it to get her down.  She has rather chosen to hold her head up, and stay determined to succeed in this area of her schooling.  I’ve been encouraged, challenged, and motivated by her “kick yourself in the pants and get over it” kind of attitude of confidence in the midst of a trying situation.

She’s done what I believe David did when he was “greatly distressed” in I Samuel 30:6, when the Bible says that “he encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 

I remember those days, when school subjects and projects would consume my mind and my world. And I would almost wish that the world would just come to an end rather than have to face what seemed at the time like impossible tasks.

Well, things don’t get any easier with age, do they?…

As we get older, I think you’d agree that the things we faced as a child begin to pale in comparison to what we’ve had to face in “real life” as an adult.  Yes, we still face seemingly insurmountable circumstances, but it’s certainly of a different kind.

I’m not sure what the challenges are that you’ve faced over the past year, or are currently facing, but I’m sure that you have some.  It might be…

  • the loss of a family member that you love
  • the pain of a rebellious or wayward child
  • a job situation that seems impossible to reconcile
  • a relationship that only gets worse the harder you try
  • a prayer that still goes unanswered

While I don’t know your specific struggle, I’ll guarantee you that you do, and you’re probably thinking of it right now as you’re reading this. You may even feel like completely giving up.

I know that there were some areas in my life that I was considering ‘giving up’ in this coming year, but I was motivated to continue to ‘stay in the fight’ due to my daughters’ example.

May I encourage you with the strong words of my daughter to remember that whatever it is that you are facing…

“It’s a part of life.  Deal with it.  Never give up.  You can do it!”

I hope that you’ll be as encouraged by her spirit as much as I was, and that you’ll also find encouragement from these verses of scripture as well, to remind you of the perspective God intends for you to have in your life’s struggles and trials.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him.  Psalm 42:5

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.  Psalm 27:13-14

Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.  Joshua 1:9

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13

As for God, his way is perfect.  Proverbs 18:30

Sounds like God is saying something that sounds a bit familiar – “It’s a part of life.  Deal with it.  Never give up.  You can do it!”  

Another year will certainly come with it’s challenges.  Praying that as you enter a new year God would grant you the spirit of endurance and perseverance through whatever you may face.

Even if it’s not you that needed to hear this today, maybe it’s somebody else… please share.

Faith & I on a Starbucks run after some paintball fun

12 Questions to Ask Your Kids Before 2017

My wife and I recently sat down with each of our children and asked them to finish this sentence…  “You feel most loved by me when _________________________.”

Here were their responses (in their own words):  I feel most loved by you when…

  • You notice when I do things right.
  • We spend time together by ourselves.
  • You ‘step up’ and do things with me that no one else wants to do with me.
  • You play baseball with me in the backyard.

I’d have to say, those were some pretty simple, yet really good responses that helped my wife and I to be reminded of the importance of making sure we are speaking our child’s love language in the way that they understand it best.

We asked them to complete that sentence as a part of 12 questions that we asked them as we enter into a new year.  I was blessed, surprised, humored, as well as pleased by some of their responses to those questions.

Today, I’m making those questions available to you and challenging you to make some time before the new year to sit down with each of your children and ask them these same 12 questions (or modify them to your liking if you want).

Have a pen handy and take some notes, and then make sure to discuss your child’s responses with your spouse (or ask them the questions together as a couple).  I guarantee you that if you’ll do this, you’re going to learn some important things about your child that will help you be a better parent for them in the coming year.

Taking time to listen to the heart of your child is one of the best ways you can gift yourself to them during this holiday season.

So, here’s your list of questions!

Have fun, and remember… you only get one chance to get this parenting thing right.  So make the most of it!

If you take the challenge, I’d love for you to let me know how it goes.  May God’s richest blessings be upon you and your family as you enter into 2017.  Happy New Year!

Dad, What’s Your Vision for Your Family?

Turning a God-given vision into a reality

When God made the family, he started by giving it a man – to lead it, to direct it, and to guide it.

This wasn’t by accident, but by design.  God knew that a family would need loving leadership and strong guidance to navigate through the tough waters of family life and growth.

But even though God gave the family a man, sadly, we still see many families who are lacking in confident male leadership.  Some men have abandoned ship, others are physically or emotionally absent, and some sadly just don’t care.  My heart goes out to all of the woman who are pulling double duty out of necessity to provide the leadership their family needs.

However, if you are a man, and God has given you a family, you need to consider them as one of your highest callings in life – the call to be a husband to your wife and a father to those precious children.  God has called you to lead, guide, and direct them.

And even more than that, God has called you to have a vision for your family and their future.

QUESTION…

Which raises a very important question – Do you have a vision for your family?

Have you prayerfully considered what God would have you to do, and where God would have you to go as a family in the coming year?

You do realize that every single day, you are building something, right?  You are building not just a family, but a future.  You are building the very foundation of hearts and lives that will one day build that same foundation for future generations to come.

If I were to ask you, “What is your vision for your family?”, could you describe it, or articulate anything specific about it?…

Yes, I know you want to have a great marriage, and obedient, godly children.  But have you carefully thought out any of the details of making that vision a reality?

  • When you look at your relationship with your wife, how do you want it to be different a year from now… or 5 years from now?
  • When you look at your children, what things would you like to see in their lives and character in the coming year?  What about 10 years from now?
  • And what are you currently doing to help them to get there?

Are you taking spiritual leadership, headship, and overall responsibility of your family’s direction and future seriously?  Or are you just coasting through your marriage and parenting as if everything will just fall into place and work out okay, simply because you love God and have good intentions?

MEN, LET’S NOT BE NAIVE…

Godly families don’t happen by accident.  Godly families are built by Godly men – Men who are willing to do the hard work and pursue the sometimes painful process it takes to see their God-given family vision accomplished.

Have you ever seen an artist’s rendering of a building that’s not yet been built?  Obviously, someone had a vision in mind of what the end product would look like when it was completed.  They gave careful consideration to the many details that would be required to make their vision a reality.

I think the same can be applied to our vision as husbands and fathers.  Sometimes our hard work can seem more worth the effort if we keep in our sights a vision of the end product that we’re striving to build.

Seeing that vision become a reality might include any of the following:

  • putting date night back into your weekly or monthly schedule
  • implementing a family altar into your home of prayer and spiritual conversation
  • opening up better ongoing doors of communication with your wife and children
  • getting consistent in your discipline and expectations
  • getting on the same page as husband and wife about the vision for your children’s future
  • giving faithful church attendance the priority it deserves
  • starting a Bible study with one of your kids, or having some of those difficult conversations
  • scheduling time to simply have fun together as a family
  • saying no to other things and people, so that you can say yes to the things and people that matter most

WILL THE COMING YEAR LOOK ANY DIFFERENT THAN THE LAST?…

How do you want 2017 to look different for your family than the previous year?

In what areas of your family life or marriage do you feel that God has been speaking to you and prompting you about recently?

What do you need to implement starting today to help your family accomplish your God-given vision for them?

Even if its just one thing, take a step in the right direction to implement it into your family life today.

Because men, no one else is going to step up to make your vision for your family a reality.  And honestly, no one else has the responsibility to… but you.

Step Up. Lead. Turn Vision into Reality. Go!

How to GIFT Yourself to Your Family this Christmas

4 ways to give your family what they really want for Christmas

Around this time of year, there’s going to be a lot of gift giving going on to show people that we love and appreciate them.  And of course, there’s no better people for us to show that to than our family members.

While Christmas is a wonderful time to express our love through generosity and gift giving, I’ll bet that there are some things that your family wants more from you than just more stuff.  Even more than they want all of the goodies that you can give them, they really just want more of YOU.

So, if you’d like to give them what they really want for Christmas, you have two options – you can either tape a big red bow to the top of your head and mummify yourself in wrapping paper, or… you can simply do these 4 easy things to G.I.F.T. yourself to your family:

  1. G-IVE them what they really deserve

You may think that they deserve that new outfit or a new toy, but the truth is that what they really deserve most is The Very Best of You.  Give your family the best version of you that there is.

Your kids deserve a parent who is engaged, present, kind, playful, patient, and unselfish.  Your husband or wife deserves a spouse that is understanding, helpful, flexible, romantic, generous, and sacrificial.

Gift yourself to your family this Christmas, and I guarantee you it will mean more to them than any other gift that they’ll find under the tree!  If you’d like more ideas on this, Here are 5 things your kids want from you at Christmastime more than just more stuff.

  1. I-NCLUDE them in your holiday planning

Let’s face it, Christmastime is a busy time of the year.  As you plan out your schedule and calendar, be intentional about what you do and don’t participate in.  And make sure your family takes top priority in such a way that they know it.

Here are a few good questions to consider as you plan out your December schedule:

  • Will participating in this activity keep me from giving my family the priority that they deserve?
  • What holiday activities can we participate in together as a family?
  • Which activities can we participate in that will create lasting family memories?
  • What can we participate in that will benefit someone other than just ourselves?
  • Which “useless” activities can we say no to, in order to say yes to something better?
  1. F-IND ways to make them feel special & loved.

Yes, you love your family, but how are you going to tangibly show it to them this December?  Here are some simple ideas on my list this month that may help you to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Get your daughter a Venti Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks. (This makes me a hero in the eyes of my preteen daughter)
  • Play some “NFL” football with your boys out in the freezing cold (just to keep it real).
  • Make your spouse a coupon book for the 12 days of Christmas – this could be practical or… otherwise. (wink, wink, Babe, if you’re reading this)
  • Sit down and have a one on one conversation with each person in your family, and honestly tell them in specific ways what they mean to you.

Whatever you decide to do, find some ways to “show the love” by gifting yourself.

  1. T-ALK about their dreams for the coming year

This is something that I’m excited about doing this month – sitting down with each person in our family, and listening to their heart.  This involves asking them honest and somewhat pointed questions about the past year, as well as their dreams and desires for the coming year. (If you’d like a sneak peek, you can see my list of questions here.)  I did this with one of our children already, and was pleasantly surprised by their honest and open feedback.

Sadly, sometimes as parents, we can get so busy with life, that we rarely stop to just sit and listen to our kids and what their hearts are trying to tell us.  They have desires, dreams, goals, frustrations, and struggles just like we do, and sometimes we don’t even know what all of those things are.  Maybe not because they won’t tell us, but because we haven’t taken the time to ask or to listen.

God has called us to help our family succeed, and one of the ways we can do that is by getting on the same page that their heart is on, and then gifting ourself to them by committing to come alongside in the coming year to help make those things a reality.

So, don’t just give your family gifts this Christmas, gift yourself to them as the greatest present of all.

And remember, Jesus is our ultimate example Who gifted Himself to a world that He loved… “For the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

What are some other ways that you plan to gift yourself to your family this Christmas?

10 Ways to Keep the Busyness of the Season from Getting the Best of You

How to prioritize your holidays and minimize your stress

Have you ever found yourself stressed out or stretched too thin during the month of December?  Me neither. 🙂

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With the Christmas season heavy upon us, here are some helpful reminders for how to keep your sanity and make sure that you are in control of the craziness, and not the other way around.

1. Keep your priority on things to a minimum.  The last thing any of us need is more things, yet if we’re not careful and fail to be intentional, that’s exactly what the focus of the season will become all about.

2. Make family time a priority.  This time of year is the one time we are supposed to spend more family time, yet sometimes our schedules become so chocked full that the last thing our family ends up getting from us is our best.

“Some of us have made an idol of exhaustion. The only time we know we have done enough is when we’re running on empty and when the ones we love the most are the ones we see the least.”  – Barbara Brown Taylor

3. Remember that you are in control of your schedule.  You don’t have to attend every party, every Christmas program, or every community event that is happening. In fact, I’d strongly encourage you not to.

4. Choose to say ‘No’ to some things.  Decide in advance how much you are going to allow into your schedule during the holiday season and then stick to your guns and learn to say no to whatever threatens it.

5. Don’t overdo yourself in gift giving. One gift per person is really okay, no matter what your family’s income or your family culture. Even if you do more that one gift per person, don’t let materialism take over your family.

6. Don’t go into debt for any reason. Our desire to look good or be the better aunt, uncle, or grandparent often drives us to try and give bigger and better. Refuse to play that game.

7. Do something for someone else outside of the family. Make homemade goodies for the neighbors, visit a shut-in as a family, go Christmas caroling. Whatever you do, make sure to help your kids learn that the true spirit of Christmas is a spirit of generosity. (Of our time, our resources, and ourselves)

8. Take your scheduled time off. Whatever time you get off, take it, and maximize upon it. Don’t bring work home with you. Be fully present in those moments.

9. Decide as far in advance as possible how you will spend your time with the in-laws.  Organize with both sides of the family, and make your plans known in advance. This can save tons of stress in any family.

10. Remember why we celebrate in the first place. Keep Christ at the heart of Christmas.

The holidays can be the most peaceful or the most stressful time of the year, but it’s really up to us and what we make of it. This holiday season, choose to be proactive rather than reactive by doing these 10 things to keep the busyness of the season from getting the best of you.

If you agree, please share these 10 things with others!  Merry Christmas!

8 Reasons Your Kids are Misbehaving

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Every parent deals with bad behavior from their kids from time to time.

I can remember a time in particular when one of our boys seemed to be repeatedly pushing his siblings and hitting them with whatever he happened to have in his hand at the moment.  What we came to realize was that he was actually playing out in real life what he had been recently exposed to through some action-packed video games and movies.

Sometimes, as parents, we’re guilty of thinking that our kids are just being bad when there may be more going on underneath the surface that we need to be paying attention to. So what are some of the reasons why kids misbehave?

While there may be many reasons for kids misbehaving, here are 8 that every parent must consider:

1. They have an irregular/unhealthy diet.

Bottom line – What kids eat has an effect on how they behave.  Doctors have been saying it for years, but it’s true – healthy eating encourages better behavior.

2. They have a lack of consistent discipline.

Yes, good old-fashioned discipline still works and is a cornerstone of practical and successful parenting. discipline may take on different forms for different families, but nonetheless, it’s…  Continue reading >>